Results of a study funded by the Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF) for Parkinson's Research have enabled researchers to secure a $23 million grant from the NIH, continuing a repurposed drug approved for hypertension to phase III testing for slowing Parkinson's progression. The trial investigating the compound isradipine will be the most advanced, current study into a disease-modifying therapy for Parkinson's disease (PD), an unmet need.
Isradipine is a calcium channel blocker prescribed to treat high blood pressure. Epidemiological data from population-scale studies note a lower incidence of PD among people who take this drug. Furthering PD researchers' interest, laboratory tests have shown that blocking calcium channels protects dopamine neurons, degeneration of which is one of the hallmarks of PD.
"What the millions living with Parkinson's disease need is a drug that will halt or slow the progression of their disease," said Todd Sherer, Ph.D., CEO of MJFF. "We've invested in isradipine, and we're glad to see it moving forward with NIH support, because it has shown such potential to do just that."
The NIH funding will move the safety, tolerability and efficacy assessment of Dynacirc for PD (STEADY-PD) study into phase III efficacy testing. Dynacirc is the commercial name of the isradipine hypertension drug. The Parkinson Study Group hope to enroll more than 300 participants at 56 clinical sites throughout North America.